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Last Updated: Monday, 9 August, 2004, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Chinese try out text msg novel
Mobile phone poster in China
China has more than 260 million mobile phone users
We have had sonnets and soap operas sent by text messages and now an entire novel is being made available by SMS.

Chinese author Qian Fuchang has cut down his original novel into bite-sized chunks for transmission by text message.

Called Outside the Fortress Besieged, it tells of the effect of an extra-marital love affairs on relationships.

The rights to the novel have been sold for 180,000 yuan (11,100), reported the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua.

Tiny text

The novel sold very well in full book form and is expected to prove as popular in its reduced form.

The work has been cut down to 4,200 characters and will be distributed as 60 chapters of 70 characters each.

As well as getting the novel in SMS chunks, Chinese mobile phone users can choose to have it read to them over the phone or they can read it themselves on a webpage for mobiles.

The title is taken from a French proverb which says that marriage is like a fortress besieged because those outside want to get in, and those inside want to get out.

The book has been described as a steamy tale of illicit love among married people.

China has approximately 260m mobile phone users and, like many other countries, text messaging is hugely popular with them.

Last year, the Chinese sent more than 220bn text messages, more than half of all messages sent in the world, according to Xinhua.

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